By Wendy Holdren
The United Way Leader’s Club Luncheon brought together community leaders Tuesday to recognize those who have made significant contributions, as well as to rally excitement to reach this year’s fundraising goal of $500,000.
Executive Director Margaret Ann O’Neal explained that there are several levels in the Leader’s Club, The highest level is Alexis de Tocqueville, which is named for a French political thinker who believed in the value of individuals giving back to their communities for philanthropic endeavors.
The United Way of Southern West Virginia serves 32 nonprofit organizations, many of which would struggle without its support.
Scott Miller, executive director of Just for Kids Inc., said the United Way helped get his organization on its feet.
Just For Kids is a nonprofit child advocacy center that serves Raleigh, Fayette and Wyoming counties.
“The United Way is a great supporter. They really make a huge difference.”
He said not only do they support financially, but the members have helped out with training and increasing awareness about Just for Kids.
“When federal and state funds shrink, we really must rely on the community.”
Beckley Mayor Emmett Pugh, president of the United Way Board of Directors, welcomed everyone to the luncheon at the Black Knight Country Club.
“This is a great day for United Way because we are recognizing people who contribute to our community every year,” Pugh said. “It’s up to us to step up to the plate.”
Campaign Chair Richard Jarrell gave a special thanks to the United Way staff.
“This doesn’t just happen. Each one of them makes this happen for us every day.”
Jarrell said that as the United Way continues striving to reach its $500,000 goal, it’s not just about writing checks or investing time and energy, but it’s also about influence.
“We have to be those ambassadors to tell those stories every day.”
He said his daughter will graduate high school this year with a girl who is expecting her second child. Additionally, he said there are six middle school girls in the county who are pregnant. He also noted one 14-year-old male student was expelled for bringing a gun to a football game.
“It’s not about a $500,000 goal, it’s about a $500,000 need.”
Even in difficult financial times, Jarrell said the community finds a way to give back.
“When you give up something you love for something you love even more, that’s sacrificial giving. That’s the reason why we’re here is because you all love southern West Virginia and our community.”
Gerald and Deb Swanson were recognized for being in the DeTocqueville Society, which means they contributed over $10,000 to the United Way.
Dolly Johnson was recognized for her long-standing support of the United Way.
Those who participated in the Dancing with the Stars fundraising event were also recognized.
For more information about United Way or how to get involved, visit www.unitedwayswv.org.